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In 2019, our Foundation decided to open its photobook library to the public by creating the Artphilein Photobook Library in Lugano. The acquisition choices are guided by the research fields on which our Foundation focuses its activities. Among these, prominence is given to the analysis of the relationship between humans and our planet, of how much we modify, shape, consume and destroy it.
The photobooks exploring the exploitation of natural resources – of which the first chapter, Rock, Mineral and Coal Mining, is on show here – have been collected in over fifteen years of focused research. The books selected deal with mining landscapes, extraction methods, mines both in service and disused, industrial and artisanal exploitation, people, working conditions, machinery, processing and the transformation of raw materials, as well as environmental and social impact.

The selection presented here is the narrative of this investigation, a provisional account. It is also a testimony to the expressive power of the photobook – in its reconciliation of images with texts, in its potential and wide range of approaches – as well as to the possibility for a library, adopting a specific selection criterion to choose from the vast range of past and recent publications, to create a story to propose, an invitation to reflect on the natural resources, such as rocks, minerals and coal, to be found on every continent and exploited since ancient times (the first mining activity of hematite is thought to date back over 40,000 years).

This first Artphilein Dossier presents the covers of all the books selected, in alphabetical by title, accompanied with typological info and texts by the curators Joerg Bader and Diego Stephani, sharing their impressions and considerations on this specific and very particular subset of the Artphilein Photobook Library.

The books can be consulted in the exhibition, accompanied by brief abstracts, or online at